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APRIL Group announces $100 mln investment to restore peatland as criticism mounts

April launches its peatland restoration program
APRIL launches its peatland restoration program (Image: APRIL twitter)

JAKARTA (rambuenergy.com) – As environmental groups are mounting criticism against Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) Group, a world’s largest fiber, pulp and paper producer, owned by tycon Sukanto Tanoto, the company unveiled its major program to restore peatland in Sumatera, with a total planned investment of US$100 million over the next decade.

The announcement came as the world’s governments meet in Paris to finalize a global climate treaty. APRIL said it would double its peatland restoration activities in Indonesia to 150,000 hectares and invest US$100 million over the next decade in conservation and restoration activities.

This increased commitment to Riau Ecosystem Restoration (RER) is believed to be the biggest investment by a private sector company in a single eco-restoration project in Indonesia, covering assessment, restoration and protection, and management and partnerships, the company claimed.

“This commitment illustrates how private sector organizations can support climate goals not just in terms of pledges but by going beyond them and actually putting resources on the table,” said Tony Wenas, Managing Director, APRIL Group Indonesia Operations.

Anderson Tanoto, Shareholder of APRIL Group and RGE Director, said that the global community has an extraordinary opportunity at COP 21 in Paris to make a difference for the future.

“This investment indicates our broader business case for restoration which encompasses the value of the ecosystem services and the need to have an inclusive approach with the community. As we learn and evolve our approach, we continue to deliver environmental benefits, economic opportunity through jobs and infrastructure, as well as social progress for local communities,” Anderson Tanoto said.

The RER restoration area has been largely protected from burning during the last fire and haze season, one of the worst to have hit Southeast Asia, which indicates the effectiveness of APRIL’s landscape approach, supporting the case for further investment.

APRIL Group’s conservation and restoration activities delivered and committed now account for 400,000 ha – 150,000 in restoration and 250,000 in conservation – of forest in Indonesia, an area close to six times the size of Singapore, while nearly matching its commercial plantation area. This 1-for-1 goal of conservation to plantation is one of the commitments made by the company under its strengthened Sustainable Forest Management Policy (SFMP) announced six months ago, which ensured deforestation was eliminated from its supply chain.

The RER program, which was established by APRIL Group in partnership with Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and local NGO Bidara in 2013, protects and restores important peatland areas on the Kampar Peninsula in Indonesia’s Riau Province under eco-restoration licenses granted by the Indonesian Government.

“The partners involved in the RER project hope that it will be a living, working blueprint – – an evolving example of what other public and private sector organisations can achieve more broadly through strong partnerships and bold vision,” said Tony Whitten, AsiaPacific Regional Director at Fauna & Flora International.

Indonesia’s peatland areas are some of the most sensitive ecosystems in the world, while the Kampar Peninsula landscape is one of the largest peatland areas in Southeast Asia. Kampar’s tropical forests are rich in biodiversity and support endangered wildlife species, including the Sumatran tiger and sun bear.

Drawing on the expertise of APRIL Group, FFI and Bidara as well as local communities, RER employs a four-phase model of protection, assessment, restoration and management to rejuvenate previously degraded areas of forest and peatland. This model, complemented by APRIL’s Fire Free Village Program and water management strategies, ensured that the Kampar Peninsula largely remained free of fire during the recent haze crisis. (editorial@rambuenergy.com)

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